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It's the summer before eighth grade, and Matthew Burton is looking forward to a couple months of playing video games, lounging around, and spending time with his "gang," The Sheds. That is, until his mother receives word of the sudden death in America of her wacky younger sister Galaxy. When Matthew's mother returns to the United Kingdom after attending the funeral, she has a surprise in tow: Matthew's cousin Sam.

Sam seems to fit in well with Matthew and his friends --- he is funny and smartmouthed, and he knows a lot about music. But Sam can also be rude, sullen, and aggressive. Can he be trusted to be a valuable member of the gang? The boys decide to give Sam a test: if he can spend the first few days of the school year dressed as a girl, he will have proven his loyalty to his new friends. Even better, Sam can use his disguise to spy on the Sheds's rival girl gang and learn all their secrets

At first Sam resists the idea, but he really needs friends at his new school, so he gives the plan a go. With his flowing blonde hair, small size, and good looks, Sam makes a better girl than anyone had imagined. Soon enough, he infiltrates the girls' group, starts fashion trends, and catches the eye of the Big Man on Campus. He even seems to enjoy being a girl, and his playful attitude toward his new role also seems to help him overcome the grief of losing his mother.

The borderline ridiculous plot offers plenty of opportunities for truly funny situations, as Sam relishes playing with gender role expectations. There's also lots of humor in the rapidly changing narration, as the story is told from the points of view of students, teachers, and parents alike. The only person who doesn't have a voice is Sam --- readers get to know Sam simply through his outlandish behavior and through other characters' impressions of him/her.

Sam's story gets a little over the top when his ex-con dad shows up from America, demanding his son and his share of the inheritance money. Everything comes to a crisis during the big school concert at the end of the book, and then wraps up a little too quickly and neatly. Among all the crazy antics of the book's characters, though, BOY2GIRL also has a serious point about the divisiveness of traditional sex roles and expectations, and about the importance of seeing people for who they really are.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on February 24, 2005

by Terence Blacker

  • Publication Date: March 5, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 0330421212
  • ISBN-13: 9780330421218